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Sunday June 30, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday June 30, 2013 MYT 9:58:06 AM
by wong pek mei
PETALING JAYA: A group of 60 full-time working professionals are making waves at dragon boat races.
The group, which includes lawyers, engineers and expatriates, had won seven prizes out of nine races they had joined, plus a gold medal in their first race.
The KL Barbarians team coach Lee Shih, 32, said he started the group in 2011 as he wanted to promote the sport to more people.
“So, I called my friends to join my workshops once I had mustered enough confidence to conduct them,” said the lawyer.
To his surprise, his friends, who were used to donning suits and ties instead of boating gear, were hooked and wanted to see how far they could go – which led them to join their first competition and won a gold medal in the beginner’s category at the Putrajaya International Dragon Boat Festival after only 10 weeks of training in October 2011.
Dragon boat racing originated about 2,500 years ago in China during the Han Dynasty as a traditional festival that evolved from myths and legends.
The boats would usually be decorated with dragon heads, scaly bodies and tails.
Team captain Janet Chai Pei Ying, 31, said she never expected to continue beyond the workshop as she had initially joined it merely out of curiosity.
“After the first race, we finally understood the novelty of dragon boating. Nothing can beat the adrenaline rush while paddling in less than two minutes to reach the finish line,” she said.
Another team member, Lesley Lim Ai Li, 26, said dragon boating could not be compared to other team sports as they had to move in complete unison.
“Even if just one of us moves out of sync, the boat will not glide as quickly,” she said.
Co-coach Cheng Ju Vern, 31, said dragon boating had changed their lives for the better.
“We have become fitter and healthier as we have to undergo regular training. Eventually, this will translate well into our working life as we will have more energy throughout the day,” he said.
The group is now setting its sights on international dragon boat races.
“Our goal is to compete on an international platform next year and continue to promote the sport in Malaysia,” said Chai.
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